Areas of Study
Email Address
Taylor Science Center 2037
On Leave/Away

Andrea Townsend's research is focused on understanding how land-use changes affect the behavior, health and populations of wild birds. In recent work, Townsend examined how urbanization promotes transmission of West Nile virus and food-borne pathogens in crows. She used satellite telemetry to examine how they might transport these diseases along migratory pathways. Townsend and her students address these questions using a combination of field observations, experiments and laboratory techniques. They work with both free-living and captive birds. She earned her doctorate in ecology at Cornell University and her A.B. in biology from Bowdoin College. Townsend conducted post-doctoral research at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Smithsonian Institution. She was a faculty member at the University of California, Davis, prior to joining the faculty at Hamilton.

Recent Courses Taught

Seminar in Global Change Ecology


  • Competitive grant, UC Davis ANR, 2014-2016
  • USDA Fellowship (in support of postdoctoral scholar), 2014-15 
  • Elective member, American Ornithologists’ Union, 2013
  • National Science Foundation Biological Informatics Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2010-12
  • Council of the Association of Field Ornithologists, 2010
  • American Association of University Women Fellowship, 2008-09
  • Graduate Women in Science Research Fellowship, 2005
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2004-07

Selected Publications

  • Taff C., Weis A., Wheller S., Hinton M., Weimer B., Barker C., Jones M., Logsdon R., Smith W., Boyce W., & Townsend AK (2016). "Influence of host ecology and behavior on Campylobacter jejuni prevalence and environmental contamination risk in a synanthropic wild bird." Applied and Environmental Microbiology

  • Townsend AK, Cooch EG, Sillett TS, Rodenhouse NL, Holmes R., & Webster MS (in press). "The interacting effects of food, spring temperature, and global climate cycles on population dynamics of a migratory songbird." Global Change Biology.
  • Eimes JA, Townsend AK, Sepil I, Nishiumi I & Satta Y (2015). "Patterns of evolution of MHC class II genes of crows (Corvus) suggest trans-species polymorphism." PeerJ, 3, e853. doi: 10.7717/peerj.853
  • Hinton MG, Reisen WK, Wheeler SS, and Townsend AK (2015) "West Nile virus activity in a winter roost of American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos): is bird-to-bird transmission important in persistence and amplification?" Journal of Medical Entomology 0022-2585: tjv040.
  • Townsend AK & Barker CM (2014) "Plastic and the nest entanglement of urban and agricultural birds." PLoS ONE 9: e88006.
  • Halová D, Papoušek I, Jamborova I, Masarikova M, Cizek A, Janecko N, Oravcova V, Zurek L, Clark A, Townsend AK, Ellis J, & Literak I (2014) "Plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance genes in Enterobacteriaceae bacteria from American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos): high prevalence of bacteria with variable qnrB genes." Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 58(2):1257-8. doi: 10.1128/AAC.01849-13.
  • Weis AM, Miller M, Byrne B, Boyce W, & Townsend AK. (2014) "Prevalence and pathogenic potential of Campylobacter isolates in free-living, human commensal American Crows." Applied and Environmental Microbiology 80(5):1639. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.03393-13.
  • Townsend AK, Sillett TS, Webster MS, Lany NK, Kaiser SA, Rodenhouse NL, & Holmes RT (2013). "Warm springs, early lay dates, and double brooding in a North American migratory songbird, the Black-Throated Blue Warbler." PLoS ONE 8 (4): e59467.
  • Oravcova VL, Zurek L, Townsend AK, Clark AB, Ellis JC, Cizek A, & Literak I (2013) "American crows as carriers of vancomycin-resistant enterococci with vanA gene." Environmental Microbiology: doi:10.1111/1462-2920.12213
  • Sly ND, Townsend AK, Rimmer CC, Townsend JM, Latta SC, & Lovette IJ (2011) "Ancient islands and modern invasions: disparate phylogeographic histories among Hispaniola’s endemic birds." Molecular Ecology 20:5012-5024. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05073.x
  • Townsend AK, Clark AB, & McGowan KJ. (2010) "Condition, innate immunity and disease mortality of inbred crows." Proceedings of the Royal Society B 277 (1695): 2875-2883.  doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0480
  • Townsend, AK, Clark AB, & McGowan KJ. (2010) "The direct benefits and genetic costs of extrapair paternity in the cooperatively breeding American crow." American Naturalist 175: E1-9. doi: 10.1086/648553
  • Sly ND, Townsend AK, Rimmer CC, Townsend JM, Latta S, & Lovette IJ (2010)  "Phylogeography and conservation genetics of the Hispaniolan endemic Palm-tanagers (Aves: Phaenicophilus)." Conservation Genetics 11 (6): 2121-2129, DOI: 10.1007/s10592-010-0098-4.
  • Townsend, AK (2009) "Extrapair copulations predict extrapair fertilizations in the American Crow." Condor 111: 387-392. (Evaluated by the Faculty of 1000 Biology)
  • Townsend AK, Clark AB, McGowan KJ, Buckles EL, Miller AD, & Lovette IJ (2009a) "Disease-mediated inbreeding depression in cooperative crows." Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 2057-2064. (Press release: http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2009/03/study-finds-inbred-crows-more-prone-disease)
  • Wheeler SS, Woods LW, Boyce WM, Eckstrand CD, Langevin SA, Reisen WK, & Townsend AK (2014) "West Nile virus and non-West Nile virus mortality and coinfection of American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) in California." Avian Diseases 58(2): 255-261.

Appointed to the Faculty


Educational Background

Ph.D., Cornell University
B.A., Bowdoin College

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